This is the time of the year when our society shifts its focus to giving, but a major part of our focus is upon being thankful also. We just celebrated our Thanksgiving Holiday, but I don’t believe that being thankful ends with just that one day.
We are just about to celebrate Christmas as a nation. Millions of dollars will be spent on gifts for others. (I was surprised this week to hear a report that the average pet owner spends $62 on gifts for their pets. Don’t tell our dog; she is happy with a dog biscuit!) Giving is a good, even a great thing, but the people I talk with seem to spend more time being thankful for what (and who) they have than with what they expect to get.
Now I understand that sometimes, (especially for the younger folks in our lives), it is harder to separate what is really important. One of our fondest remembrances is of our oldest son Kirk when he was about 4 years old. At night we always knelt down beside his bed and prayed before he went to bed. One night he was saying his prayers and he said these memorable words, “God, thank you for Grandma, because she gives me everything I want”.
Now that is a cute and memorable happening from the life of a child, but how does that translated into our lives today? Could it be that we, each of us, need to focus more upon the giver than the gift? Is it possible that we sometimes forget to be thankful for the right thing? James reminds us in James 1:17, “Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, (the father of lights), who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow.” (NLT)
To paraphrase our young son perhaps we should say, “Father, I’m thankful for you, because you give me everything I want.” And, if that is not true, could it be perhaps, that we want the wrong things. James also cautions his readers in James 4:3, “And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong, you want only what will give you pleasure.”
If you want happiness and contentment this holiday season instead of stress and resentment, let me encourage you to focus on the right thing, not the gift, but the giver. As my friend Bailey reminds us continually we can be content everyday.
Russ Lawson is a volunteer citizen columnist, who serves The Daily Advocate readers weekly with his column Today’s Challenges. He is semi-retired and an elder at the Mid-County Church of Christ. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.